The Avenger Sucked!!!
Debate Rounds (3)
The ultimate problem is that we have already seen each of these characters face their biggest internal challenges. They have all had to grow as people. There is only room for one character to get any development, which is naturally Tony Stark. I love Robert Downey, but there were five Avengers still missing any character development. They start out as one way, and end the film very much the same. The character with the greatest potential for growth, Bruce Banner, has his entire reason for being able to control his rage (something that he was unable to do for two movies) cut down to a single sentence. While it is true that there was a longer, more moving scene of his coming to terms with the Hulk, that was cut in favor of a longer New York battle.
And speaking of the New York battle, the Chitauri are about as effective as battle droids from Star Wars Episode I. The screenwriters, unable to come up with a satisfying way to end their film, simply have all the alien invaders drop dead the instant their base is destroyed. Ultimately, nothing any of the other Avengers do matters in the slightest, because Iron Man delivered the nuke. Even if the portal had remained open, their base being destroyed is clearly shown as the Chitauri's doom. Literally every other member of the most powerful team of superheroes in the Marvel universe is playing backup to Stark.
Now, as an exercise, list the relationships which developed during the Avengers with characters who are not Tony Stark. As you have pointed out in your opening argument, we have the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury, all played by good actors. Well we have the Hulk who... forms a friendship with Tony Stark. There's Captain America who... learns to work with Iron Man. The relationships that we DO see outside the Tony Stark circle are either preexistent or perfunctory. Hawkeye and Black Widow have a relationship, but that's in place at the start of the film and never really develops, even after he's been mind controlled. Agent Coulson is a major Cap fanboy, but once again, that is in place before the film begins and doesn't actually grow. Instead, it is used to motivate the team (especially Iron Man) to work together. The only example I could find of a relationship actually developing between non-Stark characters was the brief scene that Hulk and Thor share after felling the Leviathan. Beyond that five seconds of humor, there's nothing.
In the end, the Avengers was a fun movie, but it works mostly out of spectacle. Its primary accomplishment was getting superheroes from multiple backgrounds together in one film, from war movie Cap to sci-fi Iron Man, monster movie Hulk and fantasy Thor. What it did not do, however, was tell a deep story. Compared to some of Joss Whedon's best work, there just wasn't enough time to actually bring out the best elements of each character. Combined with the undeniable bankability of Robert Downey Jr., and the other actors were destined to play second-fiddle in a film which should have been more about celebrating the awesome parts of team-ups, seeing different combinations of characters interact together to produce interesting new dynamics. Hopefully now the groundwork has been laid and Hollywood knows just how much money these films can make, this type of movie can become something more meaningful than simple popcorn fare.
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